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The Best High School in Sydney



It is a question we get from parents all the time. Especially when they have children in years 5 or 6 or are new to the area and may not have gone to school locally themselves, but they still want to send their children to the best high school in Sydney.

It is a very valid question too – we all want the best for our children, and so putting them in to an environment in which they can thrive is really important to us as parents.

That being said, I don’t believe there is an easy answer to the question. The best high school in Sydney means different things to different students, and the best school for one student may not be the best for your child.

Instead, I think it is about focusing on the right high school for your child and your family.

Here are the five questions I ask parents to help them determine the best high school in Sydney for their child:

What are your child’s strengths?

Every child has natural strengths that they will one day carry in to adulthood. As parents, it is our responsibility and privilege to help them discover these.

Identifying your child’s key strengths is an important part of choosing the right high school for them. You want a school that gives them opportunities to further refine and expand these unique strengths.

For example, if they are naturally athletic try to find a school that is specifically sports focussed. If they are creative, find a school that offers a creative stream. If they are academic, consider a selective school.

Inversely, if they are a serious multi-discipline athlete but don’t do so well in class, a selective school is probably not right for them. Understanding that the best high school in Sydney is totally unique to the child is so important.

Do you have the financial means to consider a private school?

With the fees for some of Sydney’s private schools exceeding $25,000 a year per student, sending your child to a private school is a huge commitment. I have known many families where the Mum has returned to work simply to fund the private school fees for the kids.

Does this align with your family values? Would you be better off instead saving that money and going on an annual family trip or upgrading your car every 3 years? You could probably have one of our tutors work with your child every afternoon for less!

If a private school is within your means, then there are plenty of advantages there. As a product of both the public system (until year 10) and private (years 11 and 12), I would say they are fairly similar academically – but the individualised support and opportunities are usually greater at the private school. It also means your child is around a certain type of classmate as opposed to the mixed-bag they would be at a public school – whether this is a good thing or not is up to you – but something to be considered as few people will influence your child in high school more than their friends!

Would they thrive more in a single-sex school?

When I was in year 10 my parents pulled me out of a co-ed public school and put me in a male-only private school. It really changed everything for me; my focus, performance and even my social communication improved and I was definitely one who thrived in the single-sex environment.

This is just my experience and it may not be the same for your child, but at the co-ed school I was constantly distracted – girls, parties, keeping up appearances. At the all-boys school, everything was just easier. That pressure wasn’t there, and so instead I turned my attention to my studies.

Now, I have seen it work the other way, where guys can get to the end of high school having never had a serious conversation with a female, but I think that with the right mix of extra-curricular activities, a single-sex high school can be a great option for high school students in Sydney.

How do they handle pressure?

Does your child work hard or are they more likely to coast through school doing the minimum?

If they are naturally academic and thrive under the pressure of a high performance environment, then I would suggest a selective school or a selective stream at a regular school. If they get anxious under pressure or are less competitive, this probably isn’t right for them.

I do think that high school is a good place to start to expose them to added pressure, but this needs to be within reason. Just like muscles grow with constant exposure to small increments of added weight, our ability to handle pressure is the same. If you go to the gym and try to curl a 100kg dumbbell having never lifted a weight before, you are only going to burn out from lack of progress or injure yourself. However, lifting a few kgs more than you did the previous week is what gets results.

You don’t want to throw your child in to a school environment that they are not going to be able to handle.

Is convenience important to you?

A lot of families simply opt for their local high school because convenience is important to them. They want their child to be able to walk to and from school and have friends in the same neighbourhood.

For others, the school they go to is far more important. I’ve known parents who have sent their children to schools 2+ hours away on public transport because they valued the school more than the convenience.

Convenience isn’t always best – but it definitely has its benefits. For my children, we have opted for convenience for now, sending them to our local primary school – but come high school I think we will forego convenience, sending them to a slightly further away school than our local school as we like what if offers.

I hope these questions got you thinking. The best high school in Sydney is not about HSC results or NAPLAN results, but about what is the best school for your child. How will it allow them to thrive academically, creatively, athletically and socially? You want the very best for your child, and so choosing the right school for them is so important!

Whatever you high school you end up choosing, the support of a private tutor is invaluable. Our tutors are the best at what they do and will show your child what they are truly capable of. See why we have more 5-star reviews than anyone else here.

The problem with natural talent

Natural ability is an interesting thing.

It makes us unique. It gives us our personality.

But too often natural ability, talent and genetics – the things we don’t have to work hard for – make us lazy when it comes to performing at our best.

We find a job or relationship or level of living that aligns with our natural state and then we stop trying hard.

‘Why try any harder?’ we ask ourselves. ‘I don’t need to step out of my comfort zone – I can just coast here and rest on my natural talents.’

But this is what differentiates high performers from everyone else.

They take their natural gifting and they combine it with the magic ingredient; hard work.

Hard work; Sweat. Hustle. Determination. Persistence. These are the keys that take a talented individual to an outstanding individual.

The reality is that natural talent is everywhere. There are other people in the world that can write, sing, sell, teach, code, play, run, kick, sweat or speak with the same level of talent as me. Where I can stand out is in my own level of hard work.

Nothing can beat hard work. A talented person that works hard at their craft will run circles around the individual that depends on their natural abilities.

Former American president Calvin Coolidge said it best:

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

It is so easy to cruise through life on natural ability. But for those willing to actually do the work – willing to invest time and effort into excelling – they are the ones that stand out from the crowd.

Help with School

Many children need help with on their way through either a public or private school system.

It’s understandable, because as people, each of us is different.

We don’t all learn the same way, and we have different needs and different strengths and weaknesses. At Alchemy, we work to that principle by meeting students where they are and helping them to succeed in situations where they’re struggling.

Any kid can struggle – it’s based on a variety of very complicated factors. Getting help doesn’t mean throwing in the towel or capitulating or admitting that you have a deficiency. It just means spending more time and money on cultivating the inner beauty and strength that every child has.

That’s part of what led us to build on the Alchemy model of inspiring a generation of students. We want to help families to get the outcomes that will best serve them, through positive reinforcement of a child’s core character and natural ability to learn well.

By the Numbers

One way to look at what Alchemy does is to look at the numbers. We like data-driven processes in today’s world, and we can show our success by talking about statistics like these:

  • 22,555 hours spent with students in 2018
  • 454 tutors currently employed
  • 6573 students supported in the last 14 years

These numbers tell a story of success in terms of reaching into communities, in terms of showing our value and keeping customers and attracting new people to sign up. But we can tell another story by talking about the personalities and strengths of our personal tutors.

On our website, we feature tutor profiles that show the values and support our tutors provide to students. You see words like supportive, encouraging and patient. You see how our tutors come prepared and really dedicate themselves to their jobs. You see the stories of how people came to help out with the idea of empowering today’s youth and improving the educational choices that parents and guardians have.

This shows in the results we provide to our clients. It shows around the family dinner table and in the lives of our students and their families. We get a lot of our business through word of mouth, because when people see our results at work, they feel compelled to share.

It’s all part of our vision for a better world where more students leave school confident, communicative and well focused – regardless of where they’re going after school, what career path they are taking ,or how much they’ve achieved academically. As important as it is to achieve academically, it’s also important to achieve self-confidence and empowerment and to have focus, objectives and results. These are some of the values we hold at Alchemy and how we work with students. See more online about how we have developed our programs to reach each child, in a nurturing, compassionate and practical way.

5 Ways A Tutor Can Improve Your Child’s Life

If you notice that your child is struggling with a certain subject or is not making the grades you expect, it may be time to call a tutor. A tutor can work one on one with your child and find ways to help them learn more easily. Here are five ways a tutor can improve your child’s life.

Better Grades

Most parents choose to hire a tutor because their children need to improve their grades. Tutors can work with children to help them understand subjects in a new way. They become interested in their studies and are more likely to get better grades in class. If your child’s grades are slipping or are not where they should be, a tutor may be able to help.

Better Self Esteem

When kids aren’t performing well in school, they tend to have low self-esteem. They don’t see themselves as smart, and this can affect the way they perform in class and in other subjects. Tutors help show kids that they are capable of getting good grades and understanding the material they are given in class. They become more confident in their abilities and will be more likely to try harder in school and do better as students.

More Free Time

Kids that don’t do well in school or struggle with a certain subject often have to spend more time on their school work than others. They may be missing out on lunchtime, recess, afterschool activities and more. When kids get help from a tutor, they can retain more information. That means they can study less. They also tend to pick up on subjects faster, so they can spend less time on each subject and have more time socializing and having fun with their classmates.

Better Classroom Performance

School isn’t only about tests and grades. Many classrooms require students to participate in the classroom and even answer questions out loud. This can be difficult for students who don’t understand a subject and are not confident in their academic abilities. When students work with a tutor, they learn to answer questions out loud, work out problems in their heads, and understand the material better. They will be more likely to answer questions out loud.

Less Stress

School isn’t easy, and even children that enjoy doing school work can sometimes stress out about it. If your child isn’t doing well in class or wishes that could do better, they may be worrying about their grades. Kids want to be good students, but many just don’t have the tools they need to perform to their full potential. Tutors can help students learn to study better so they can stop stressing out about their school work and focus on other things.

When should you start preparing for the selective school test?

We help hundreds of students prepare for the selective school exam and one of the most common questions we get from parents is ‘When should I start preparing my child for the selective school test?’

There is really no correct answer to this question and it ultimately comes down to you and your child.

To help get a bit more clarity I ask these 3 questions:

1. How badly do you want them to get in to a selective school?

Selective school entry is fiercely competitive and we help students as young as third grade prepare for the exam. For many parents, selective school is the only option – and so they want to begin as early as possible to ensure they secure a place. For others, it isn’t a big deal and they have back up options – so preparation is a lot less important. You need to ask yourself how important it is to you that they get in to a selective high school – and if it is very important you need to start ASAP.

2. What does your budget allow?

A good preparation program with an experienced tutor is really a requirement these days. If you let your child just do it on their own they will be significantly disadvantaged come exam time. Many parents say they want their child to get in on natural ability which is totally admirable, however they will be competing against thousands of other students that work with a tutor a number of times a week for months or even years in advance.

This will naturally cost money, so you need to decide on the investment you are willing to make. Many parents view selective schools as an alternative to private schools – and when you view it like this, budgeting for a tutor for 12 months or more is still a fraction of the price you will pay at private school.

3. How much can your child handle at this time?

The selective school test is designed to discriminate heavily against even the brightest of students. If your child is not in the top 10% of their class, they are going to be running an uphill battle towards selective school entry. I am not at all saying it can’t be done if they are outside the 10%, but it will be a lot of work and they will need to start well in advance.

You also need to consider all the other things your child does during the week; sports, music, playtime and regular school homework. Selective school test preparation will have to eat in to something, so you need to ensure your child has the capacity and ability to handle it.

Naturally the real answer to that question is as soon as possible – because the more preparation they put in, the more likely they are to succeed in the selective school test. It is a very difficult exam, and the students that are the most successful are those that have put in ample preparation and can walk in there with confidence and peace that they know what to do with every question they encounter.

We support students of all ages prepare for the selective school exam. If you are looking for an effective preparation program that has been tested and proven on thousands of students over 10 years please get in touch today to discuss how we can help your child.

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